Formations Summary

May–August 2019

Unit 1: Paul’s Partners in Ministry

Lance Wallace

Paul, arguably the most significant contributor to the New Testament, is widely considered to be a hero of Christian faith. He went on four missionary journeys, establishing and mentoring many churches in the process. His letters to these churches still teach the church universal today. But this four-week unit isn’t about Paul; instead, each lesson focuses on a different partner in Paul’s ministry. Participants look to Barnabas, Silas, Priscilla and Aquila, and finally Timothy and Epaphroditus. In the process, learners are invited to consider how they might partner in the cooperative work of God.

Unit 2: Jesus and the Spirit

Rick Jordan

In recognition of Pentecost, this unit considers the role of the Spirit in the life of Jesus. To examine the relationship between the Second and Third Persons of the Trinity, four lessons direct participants’ attention to passages from each of the four Gospels. In Luke 4, Jesus alludes to the prophet Isaiah to signify the foundational role of God’s spirit in his ministry. In John 14, Jesus promises that the Spirit will be with the disciples after his ascension. In Mark 13, Jesus clarifies that the Spirit comes to help the disciples in times of hardship. Finally, Matthew 13 guides participants to consider how the Spirit leads them to resist evil.

Unit 3: The Book of Joshua

Leigh Powers

In five lessons, this unit traces the story of Israel’s entrance into the land of promise. Participants \ encounter a strong example of leadership in Joshua, Moses’ successor. Through descriptions of Israel’s fighting in Gibeon, Jericho, and Gilgal, lesson texts challenge Formations users to examine how stories of violence intersect stories of grace, encouragement, and obedience. Finally, the last two lessons from Joshua 23–24 recall Joshua’s final call for Israel to keep and renew its covenant with God. The book of Joshua, through its focus on Israel’s faithfulness, invites participants to imagine how they might live faithfully in their own lives.

Unit 4: Solving Problems Biblically

Sarah Reddish

The final unit explores four Old Testament texts that model ways for evaluating and responding to problems faithfully, wisely, and courageously. The first lesson examines Nehemiah’s problem in the aftermath of the exile and explores his prayerful response as an example worth following. Next, Proverbs 16 considers the importance of forethought and the challenge of patience when the unexpected happens. Then, Proverbs 2 raises children as examples that participants might follow in actively and curiously seeking to grow in wisdom. Finally, Ecclesiastes encourages readers to act, even amid uncertainty. Ultimately, this four-lesson unit invites learners to address hardships with wisdom and to move forward with purpose and joy.

September–December 2019

Unit 1: The Word of Life

Leigh Powers

First John was written as a letter to a church facing serious challenges, particularly regarding false teachers whose lessons were luring members to leave. The author of 1 John urged his church to remain faithful to the message they had heard of Christ from the beginning. Over the course of five weeks, we will explore how knowing Jesus as the word of life can give us courage, comfort, and victory. Through this knowledge we will be equipped to test new ideas against the truth of the gospel.

Unit 2: Temple and Covenant

E. Ray Frazier and Keith Johnson

From its beginning, the religion of ancient Israel centered on divine encounter. God appeared to Abraham, and at every step along his journey, the patriarch built an altar to commemorate the divine presence. So too did other biblical figures build structures to help focus humanity’s attention on God, culminating in the Jerusalem temple. In this study, we will explore the temple’s significance for Israel and seek to discern how its message relates to our own journey of faith today.

Unit 3: After This Life

Michael D. McCullar

In this unit, we will dig into the question, what happens when we die? The Bible’s answer is not as clear-cut as we might first imagine. First, we’ll address the question through Job, who asks, “If mortals die, will they live again?” Next, we’ll explore Isaiah, Daniel, and other prophets who hope that God raises the dead. Then, we’ll turn to the New Testament to consider the prospect of judgment. Finally, the book of Revelation will help us discover the hope of an existence where God wipes away our tears and guides us to springs of the water of life.

Unit 4: Luke’s Christmas Story

Courtney Willis

During Advent, we most often focus on the coming of Jesus. Luke spends a good bit of time in his first two chapters sharing the stories of men and women who attend Jesus’ entrance into the world as Messiah and Savior. In this five-week unit, we will examine many of those individuals, including Gabriel, Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna. God used unexpected people to share the story of the Messiah. As we study the first two chapters of Luke, may God also use each of us to share Christ’s story.